ABSTRACT

Understanding the child's perspective is often the key to involving children in grasping scientific ideas and developing concepts. The questions children ask, and the speculations they make, demonstrate their actual level of involvement. They also show more about understanding than a regurgitated answer ever could. Providing a safe, secure and positive environment in which children can debate their views with an open mind is crucial to the success of this. Meaningful participation does not happen in a vacuum or with mechanistic expectations. It sometimes happens by accident, without design, but it always requires acceptance of the child's view, however bizarre it might seem at first. A child may look at the moon and wonder why the 'face' formed by shadows from the craters looks different in the morning than it did the night before. If this idea is not explored through discussion then the child may still continue to wonder. The focus of scientific learning is much more effective if we can involve the child in a dialogue based on their individual ideas.